Coaster anyone?

Posted: May 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

Urban myth is an interesting thing. Open your ears and you can hear some remarkable stories. Take the one about the computer help desk receiving a strange request for help.

“The drink holder isn’t working.”

“The what?” asked the perplexed help desk operator.

“You know – the drink holder that pops out. It won’t come out any more.”

The operator thought for a bit before replying. “Madam – I think you will find that is the CD player, not a cup holder.”

Amusing? Yes. Urban myth – I thought so. Until…

I used to share a house with a friend who is very intelligent and widely read, but is something of a Luddite – a technophobe. While we shared premises, he wouldn’t (or perhaps couldn’t) use my microwave. Yet he had a computer.

At one point, my friend admitted that when he first got his computer to help with a book he was writing at the time, he had no idea what he was dealing with. So he explored and experimented. Pressing a button made a little drawer slide out. He had heard of something called a CD but didn’t actually know what one was or how you play it. You guessed it – he actually did think it was a beverage holder.

The computer sat on a low table beside the desk where the monitor and keyboard perched. That placed the ‘beverage holder’ at a really convenient height for the coffee mug. Not to mention a handy place to sit the ashtray when he wasn’t drinking coffee.

I stared at him in disbelief after hearing this admission. “You have to be kidding.” He wasn’t.

Not surprisingly, that computer is no longer in the land of the electronic living.

Those with a technological bent will be shuddering. A CD player picks up enough filth just from the dust in the air, on CDs placed in the reader and landing on the drawer whenever it is popped open. Add to the mix, splashes of coffee and cigarette ash. The mind boggles at the thought of what the inside of that computer must have looked like.

I once spilled coffee on a keyboard. I was advised to throw it out and get a new one. Being basically pigheaded, I dismantled the keyboard, which was easy enough. The heat of the circuits in the keyboard had dried the coffee by the time I had dismantled things. What a sticky mess. The fact that I take sugar with my coffee made the residue even stickier. Yuck.

Beneath the keyboard is a dimpled pad that makes the actual connection to the relevant circuits as you press keys. In theory, after cleaning things up, all you have to do is correctly align the keyboard back over that pad and screw things back together. Simple enough – in theory. Two hours later I finally had the keyboard working once more – apart from key that was duplicated anyway, so I could live without it.

With memories of my coffee and keyboard incident coming to the fore, I really was horrified at what my friend had been doing to his computer. He had a very sheepish look on his face as he related this story to me, and we both had one heck of a laugh. But this tale emphasises that there is a kernel of truth in every myth.

This makes me wonder what the ‘truth’ must have been to the urban myth of people waking up with their kidneys having been stolen.

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